Business leaders understand the importance of creating and maintaining a viable brand identity for their companies. It’s only more recently that they’ve come to see the value of creating and maintaining a personal brand for themselves.
CEOs and business owners are often the public face of their companies. As such, it’s necessary to cultivate a personal brand that reflects the integrity, authenticity and expertise they want for the business brand. A personal brand “is the emotional response your customers have when they hear your name,” notes branding expert Lorraine Carter. “It is the experience of ‘you.’”
There’s no better time than now to embark upon building or refining your personal brand. Here are tips to keep in mind:
Learn what’s already out there. When was the last time you conducted a Google search to check the status of your online reputation? Knowingly or not, you already have a personal brand in the digital universe. Take a look at what’s been written about you (or that you’ve written yourself) and objectively assess the impression it’s likely to create in your prospective customers’ eyes. You may locate inappropriate content, some of which you created long ago in your less-discerning past. If possible, eliminate these unflattering links.
Build a strong bio/profile that works across all platforms. Don’t leave your social media profiles to chance. Craft a concise, yet compelling profile that serves as a foundation for your personal brand. This profile should include:
- A brief overview of your experience and achievements, which you can add on all appropriate networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, Reddit and other niche platforms unique to your industry)
- A professional, high-quality headshot for use on all sites
Consistency is key here. Wherever people come across your profile, they should encounter the same wording and brand message.
Have a personal website and blog. Your own website is the “headquarters” of your personal brand. This is where you demonstrate your skills, experience and vision—in your own words. Blogging offers the opportunity to reflect on the marketplace and industry trends, offer an occasional peek into your personal life (tastefully done, of course!) and invite your readers to comment and share thoughts of their own. This helps build a community around your brand.
“It’s important that you come across as a real person and not a sales robot,” cautions marketing specialist Jonathan Long. “Mix in a little bit of your passions and interests that connect to your audience on a more human level.”
Engage with others on social media. In addition to your own blog posts, jump into the social media fray and engage with others – fellow CEOs and business owners, influencers, journalists and bloggers with their own significant audiences. Conversations revolving around your industry are always taking place online.
Anything you post online – articles, videos, comments on other blog posts – should in some way contribute to your personal brand. Don’t alter your voice in an attempt to mimic a particular site’s style. Don’t jump out of character in a YouTube video, just because you’re feeling playful that day.
As career consultant Matt Brady notes, whenever you “write an article, post an update on social media or interact with your audience, you should think about the overall message you’re trying to convey.”
Remaining consistent and authentic is the proven route towards establishing a recognizable (and relatable) personal brand.
You can enhance your standing as a thought leader by volunteering to serve as a source for journalists and bloggers seeking experts for their business articles. Get involved with outlets like HARO and PR Newswire, which are always requesting industry experts to consult for background information and key quotes.
Following these steps will result in a solid foundation for your personal brand. From there, it’s up to you to actively share what you know through the vast array of online venues (blogs, webinars, white papers, social media). This willingness to benefit others with your expertise will, over time, establish you as the “go-to” person for an authoritative take on the marketplace.